A Pre-Draft Look at the Packers' 53-Man Roster: Tight End
Could Miami tight end Jimmy Graham be in a Packers uniform in 2010?
I doubt it, but with Ted Thompson running the draft show you can't rule it out. The Packers are deep at tight end with potential star Jermichael Finley assuming the starting role, Donald Lee backing him up,and Spencer Havner a very capable number three.
However, Thompson could decide to trade Lee for a late round pick if he thinks Havner will be available for the entire season as he faces some legal uncertainty at the moment. He would also have to trust Havner could step in and assume the blocking role Lee played in 2009 effectively.
In that case I still doubt the Packers will end up with Graham the 6-6 260 pound tight end will likely be selected in the second round. The former Canes basketball player ran the forty in 4.53 seconds. He's raw but has the potential to be great in a few years.
More likely to be a Packer in this scenario would be either Oregon's Ed Dickson or USC's Anthony McCoy both expected to come off the board in the third round.
Dickson, 6-4 249 ran the forty in 4.59 seconds is an explosive receiver but would likely struggle as a blocker early in his career.
McCoy is 6-5 259 and ran the forty in 4.71 seconds, he has good but not great speed and is a better blocker than Dickson.
Trading Lee and adding a player like Graham, Dickson, or McCoy would give the Packers arguable the best young tight end group in the league. As is, they will have a top 5 group in 2010.
1. Jermichael Finley
Finley is poised to have a Pro Bowl season in 2010, solidifying his position as a top 5 NFL tight end.
It was quite a three-year transition for the former Texas Mr. Basketball who's biggest play as a rookie in 2008 came when he criticized quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the media after a tough loss to Tennessee.
He finished his rookie season with 6 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
In 2009 his second season he enjoyed a breakout year, catching 55 passes for 676 yards (12 yard per catch) with five touchdowns.
Finley has the ability to be mentioned with the likes of Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.
In 2010 he will move into the starting lineup, making 2009 starter Donald Lee expendable.
2. Donald Lee
Lee had a great year in 2007, Brett Favre's final season in Green Bay.
Lee had 48 catches for 575 yards (12 yard per catch) with six touchdowns.
Since, Aaron Rodgers took over at quarterback in 2008, Lee has averaged 38 catches for 282 yards (7 yards per catch) and three touchdowns, which is not good enough for a starting tight end in the Packers high-powered offense.
Lee has become more of a blocking tight end with the emergence of Jermichael Finley as a potential star and Spencer Havner as a touchdown machine.
Lee is a very dependable, possession type tight end at this point for the Packers. Those are backup numbers and that's what Lee will be for the Packers in 2010, but he does have the ability to be more for another team.
So, it's not beyond the realm of possibility at a salary of $2.7 million, and in the last year of his contract
Lee who will be 30 by the time the season starts could be trade bait, especially knowing GM Ted Thompson's love of draft picks...and youth in general.
Lee does have good value on special teams for the Packers who ranked 31st in that area last season.
3. Spencer Havner
All Havner did in 2009 was catch touchdown passes.
He had only 7 receptions for 112 yards on the season, but four of the seven went for touchdowns including a a 45-yard reception on a short pass that Havner turned up field.
He also caught a touchdown in the playoff game at Arizona on a play in which he was split wide as a receiver.
Havner was very impressive in his limited opportunities in 2009 and should get more in 2010.
His play could make 2009 starter Donald Lee expendable allowing the Packers to trade him.
However Havner is dealing with a legal issue occurring from a motorcycle accident in which he might be charged with DUI. Although at this time it seems that charges won't be filed.
If the Packers are certain Havner will not face a suspension from the league Lee could very well find himself elsewhere in 2010.